BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –
Baltimore burned. Looters broke into businesses. Suspects threw bricks at police. People set fire to buildings. And National Guardsmen were called in to help.
What if that happened in Buffalo? Are police prepared to deal with that kind of situation.
Not according to the head of Buffalo’s police union, who’s very concerned about nearly 400 patrol officers working Queen City streets.
“I don’t sleep at night because of it,” said PBA president Kevin Kennedy. “The Buffalo police department is not prepared to handle a riot or a protest today. “
Kennedy paints a disturbing picture of riot readiness in Buffalo. He said patrol officers have not been trained and don’t have the proper equipment.
“They’re going to show up and there’s no protective gear for their head. There’s no shield. There’s no baton. There’s no protective gear for their shins or their knees like you saw in Baltimore. So, these poor officers are going to get hurt,” he said.
Buffalo police commissioner Daniel Derenda declined to be interviewed on camera.
Instead, the city issued a written statement in response.
“Mr. Kennedy is incorrect. Buffalo police have the personnel, equipment, training and a plan in place to deal with these type of situations, should they arise,” the statement reads.
News 4 has learned that the police department is in the process of forming an Emergency Response Team based on a national model to deal with riots and mass protests.
But Kevin Kennedy argues that all patrol officers need that kind of specialized training, and not just a select group.
“Here’s the problem. We’re so concerned that we’re telling our members not to join this team because we need to send a message that all the members believe that safety is the number one critical issue for all of us. That our members need to be safe while they’re out there on patrol,” Kennedy said.
Commissioner Derenda said that eventually every officer will get the specialized emergency response training, and that the department is collaborating with other local and state agencies to formalize a national, state of the art training program.